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Brandon Seiler's Blog on Cars

Archive for September 2010

Building and selling classic celebrity cars (A guide)


One of the healthiest ways to live vicariously through a celebrity is to pick one that’s known for a particular car and build a replica of it. Looking back through pop culture history, many of the celebrity vehicles we’ve come to love can now be purchased on the cheap and easily modified to resemble their inspiration. The following is an insider’s guide to doing just that. We start with: 


Before David Hasselhoff couldn’t figure out how to eat a Big Mac, he starred alongside (and inside) the Knight Industries Two Thousand, more commonly known as KITT. In order to build your own KITT car, take a gander at a list of the original’s official specifications from

“- Engine: Knight Industries turbojet with modified afterburners
- Acceleration: 0-60mph > .2 seconds (with power boosters), Standing 1/4 mile > 4.286 sec @ 300mph
- Transmission: 8 speed microprocessor turbodrive with auto pilot
- Color: Black
-Other Notables: Modified dash and steering, automatic pilot, ejector seat, electromagnetic hyper-vacuum disc brakes, satellite communications, radar, electronic field disrupter, laser defense, traction spikes, voice analyzer, video recording and playback, grappling hook, ultraphonic chemical analyzer, ultramagnesium charges and T-Tops.” (1)

Whew! That sounds spendy even by today’s standards. But don’t be discouraged, check out the current Ebay Prices for an ’82 Trans Am:


A thrifty bidder should be able to pick up a solid starter car for around a grand. After that, simple dumpster diving for discarded 80’s computer paraphernalia should suffice for the interior modifications, along with several gallons of superglue. Once complete, feel free to get drunker than David Hasselhoff; the car drives its self! *

*The car will not drive its self


Elvis owned many Cadillac’s in his day. He also enjoyed shooting inanimate objects that bothered him, which makes his ’68 Eldorado Coupe extremely easy to replicate. From Elvis’Cadillacs. com:

“He reputedly used the car for some thirteen months (this being around the time of Lisa Marie's birth on 1st February, 1968) until one occasion when it wouldn't start, at which point he shot it in the right front fender. A short time afterwards, Elvis gave the Cadillac to Priscilla Presley's stepfather as a gift.” (2)

Chances are you already own a loaded gun. All that’s missing now is the Cadillac, which is selling on Ebay for:


In all likelihood there’ll be a King size deal up for auction in the $2,000 range soon. Bust a cap into the right front fender and the caddy will feel like it’s worth a solid twenty grand before the smoke clears. 



Ironically, its going to be hard to find a ’73 Ford Torino in bad enough condition to pay proper homage to the Dude’s cruiser in the cult film classic, “The Big Lebowski”. Your best bet is to hop back onto the Ebay and drop a paltry:


Which means a solid low ball on a real jalopy shouldn’t cost a dedicated Lebowski enthusiast more than $500. From there the real fun starts with replicating the various damage done to the Torino in the film:

-Run into a dumpster head-on at approximately 26mph.
-Spill beer on the front seats in order to extinguish a mostly smoked joint. 
-Find a vagrant willing to use the back seat as an outhouse before moving on. 
-Smash out the windshield and all windows with a crow bar, don’t neglect to land several solid blows to the hood and fenders. 

Even more ironic, once the damage is sufficient, you’re not going to want to drive the car, nor will it be legal to do so for a number of reasons. That’s when the massive following behind the film finally pays off:

Arrive at a celebratory screening of the film (they do exist) and figure out where the after party is. Once there it shouldn’t be hard to convince a starry-eyed fan that your Torino is one of actual cars used in the film, at which point you’d be a fool to let it go for less than five grand. 

This brings us to the real point. If purchased wisely and manufactured properly, all of the cars mentioned here will be worth more than it cost to transform them into legitimate replicas of their famous counterparts. 

You’ll find then it’s impossible to lose whether you intend to sell your celebrity vehicle or would rather enjoy the nostalgia it brings for years to come; not everyone can be famous, but anyone can feel that way behind the wheel of the right car. 



Beater Diaries: Brian’s 1993 Geo Metro (2)

When Brian returned from a dirty romp in central Washington to exchange a 1996 Buick Regal for his own 1993 Geo Metro, he smelt of cigarettes and deceit. Little did he know the Beater Diaries had prepared a series of probing investigative questions regarding the Geo itself and why exactly it was parked directly in front of my mail box for two days during his absence. No punches were pulled. Secrets were revealed, and quite intentionally, no peace was made. 


B: Hello Sir.

B2: Hello.

B: And who might you be?

B2: I’m Brian.

B: As in Steve’s brother, as in, Steve my roommate, who’s locked in a heated battle with me over who owns the superior K-Car?

B2: Yes.

B: I thought I smelled (EXPLETIVE). Answer me this: What kind of guy drives a.. What 
year is it? 

B2: A ’93.

B: A 1993 Geo Metro? 

B2: A poor guy.

B: Follow up Question: What kind of guy leaves his 1993 Geo Metro parked in front of my mailbox for two days?

B2: A guy that wants to piss you off.

B: I couldn’t help but notice that while you were blocking our mail delivery with your disrespectful park job, Steve’s 1996 Buick Regal disappeared from our driveway. Would you happen to know why this might be? 

B2: Yeah, I drove his Buick to Kennewick.

B: Does someone live out there whose mailbox you wanted to park in front of?

B2: Actually I did park in front of someone’s mailbox. That was in Toppenish though. 

B: I don’t believe you. You are a liar. I’d like you to know that while you were gone on your joyride in the Regal I got up close and personal with your Geo.

B2: That’s creepy.

B: It is, and I noticed things, really disturbing things. Perhaps most notable is that your Geo looks like a wannabe hatchback to my 1995 Honda Civic, which by no coincidence you parked directly behind. 

B2: It was either that or hit the Honda. 

B: You don’t have to tell me it’s on. Your actions speak louder than words. 

B2: (No response, glaring)

B: (Posturing) So what you wanna do? What you wanna do? 

B2: I really don’t want to do anything that involves getting up.

B: Wanna race? Wanna race then arm wrestle? I have bigger arms than you and my Civic 
has one more cylinder. 

B2: It probably does. 

B: That’s right, your Geo only comes with three cylinders, like some bull**** foreign car. 

B2: This is starting to get lame. 

B: …I’m sorry. I’ve been drinking. 

B2: Well we probably shouldn’t race then. 

B: Yeah. Sorry. Well, would you at least be willing to reveal what you have wrapped in tinfoil in the back of your Geo? 

B2: Somebody’s gallbladder. 

B: For realsies. 

B2: Spicy rice. 

B: …That’s boring. You are a boring liar and I hate you. 

B2: (Glaring in silence)

As you can see, this interview resolved nothing and only served to throw another combustible character into the smoldering embers of the Beater Diaries’ most explosive grudge. I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of Brian and his wannabe Civic hatchback. For now, we’ll leave you with the promise of another Beater Diaries exclusive video showcasing Brian himself and the car that defines him. 

Spicy rice? Please.

Stay Tuned. 


Road Tripping in a 1977 GMC Sierra Crew Cab (2)

Vehicles that are barely roadworthy are dangerous enough when they aren’t nearly twenty-two feet long, a full lane wide at the mirrors and known to catch fire periodically. 

The Wonder Truck runs on danger, and a quart of oil every 150 miles. An untrained pedal foot can cause the carburetor to belch fuel up into the air filter. Sometimes the spongy material ignites into a controlled burn that lasts as long as the filter does, but most of the time when she gets to smoking it’s a matter of sheer chance versus operator error. 

These sorts of details were left unmentioned to my new roommate, Monica before embarking on a trip from Seattle to Olympia and back to retrieve everything she owns from a storage locker. Never having driven the Wonder Truck for an extended amount of time on the freeway, I soon discovered in mute terror a number of cute little quirks the Wonder Truck develops at the top of third gear while Monica dosed blissfully on the passenger side of the front bench:

1. 54mph is fine. At 56mph, the steering wheel develops nearly four inches of play, enabling the sloppy steering linkage to change lanes at its own whimsy. 

2. The speedometer is broken.

3. The radio is broken, which actually helps in estimating your speed by listening to the pitch and frequency of a busted valve’s clacking.

4. The passenger side mirror is broken in half, creating a funhouse view of traffic merging onto the freeway via the WonderTruck’s mile-long blind spot.

5. Nothing is as it seems.

Monica was spared these horrifying revelations. Her stylish early nineties dentist sunglasses diminished the glare beaming from the whites of my knuckles. We swapped stories and caught up on old times as the Tacoma aroma wafted in through the cocked wing windows. 

It was a sunny day in Olympia. At the storage locker, the Wonder Truck consumed everything Monica owned like it was a sample spoon of ice cream from Baskin-Robbins. Despite all its foibles, it’s one giant ass truck. 

On the way out of town the errant valve went from producing its standard clacking noise to sounding like a handful of rocks in a clothes dryer. We stopped off at a gas station to add another quart of oil. 

Under the Chevron canopy, no less than three young families topped off their minivans’ tanks while I spilled the first glug of oil directly onto the Wonder Truck’s valve cover and engine block. 

Smoke billowed from the hot engine bay, through dual sliding doors, caressing car seats, disrupting DVD viewings of Veggie Tales. 

“What’s going on?” Monica called from the Wonder Truck’s cab, her vision of the spill obscured by the massive steel curtain of the erect hood. When I didn’t respond, she softened the question:

“What are you thinking about?” 

Sensing honesty was now of the essence, I told her I was waiting to see if the truck was going to catch fire. 


We waited patiently for the engine to cool while the excess oil burnt off. Once it did we made our way back to Seattle without further incident. 

Nearly a week later, I can’t help but think its only fair to let Monica in on the true amount of peril she unknowingly faced that day. At the moment she’s hanging the last of her favorite pictures on the walls of her new room across the hall from mine. Let’s confront her together: 




B-Can I come in?


B-This might seem odd. Don’t mind the voice recorder.

M-Okay… Why? 

B-It’s just for a thing I’m doing. I do a blog. I’m not sure if I told you that. 

M- Okay. 

B-Could we talk about the Wonder Truck?

M-Yeah, what about it? 

B-What did you think the first time you saw it?

M- It was like a gleaming garbage can. 

B-Were you aware of the dangers it posed before we went to get your things from the storage locker?

M-Well it looks like a piece of crap but I figured if you got it to Seattle from your parents’ house it would be okay. 

B-Did you know that it’s caught fire before?

M-No, I had no idea. 

B-I can’t tell you how good it feels to get that off my chest. Let’s move on to a lady’s perspective of the trip. Specifically, your buns were quite possibly the first female ones to grace The Wonder Truck’s Indian pattern seat covers. 

M-I don’t doubt that.

B-What did it smell like?

M-It smelled like gas and dust. 

B-Could you smell my fear? 

M-Yes, I noticed you never really glanced away from the road or took a hand off the steering wheel. It was cool though. You had it under control. 

B-What kind of man would you presume normally drives such a truck?

M-A strong man, with a beard. 

B-You’ll notice I’m clean-shaven. 

M-I’ll notice that it’s not your truck. 

(Unrecorded verbal dispute) 

B-(Clearing throat) What do you think the average person would assume about you if the Wonder Truck were your daily driver?

M-…Would I be wearing flannel? 

B- I catch your drift. Well its getting late… wanna watch Wipeout? 

M- No. 

That went well. My conscious is clear and the only possession of Monica’s that caught fire during the move was her incense during the interview. Why she turned down an episode of Wipeout is beyond me. Then again, taking a ride in the Wonder Truck can be a sobering experience. Until next time, keep those dipsticks saucy and both hands on the wheel. 

Part 1:

Road tripping in a 1977 GMC Sierra Grande crew cab

t’s been known to smoke, and catch fire. When both twenty-gallon fuel tanks are full, gasoline leaks out the passenger side nozzle. The oil to fuel consumption ratio is locked at one quart per tank. Unloaded or with over a ton of cargo in tow, it’s impossible not to get 8mpg. It’s greenish, and brownish. We call it the Wonder Truck. 

Retired from the Washington State Forest Service several decades ago, she now sits proudly in front of my father’s four-story residential farmhouse as a visible reminder that the man who built the envy of the neighborhood still has blue-collar blood coursing through his veins. 

Yes, Dad has a penchant for purchasing $800-$1,000 1970’s pickup trucks and driving the remaining miles out of them. The man has taste, and the sense to exercise caution with the Wonder Truck’s fiery temper by limiting his excursions in it. Besides short jaunts to the local dump several days out of the year, it remains in its trophy mantel just off the front driveway, parked atop four separate strips of wood to keep the tires off the grass. 

As terrible fate would have it, I’ll be calling the Wonder Truck out of retirement tomorrow for one last mission, longer and more dangerous than she’s faced in years. This time tomorrow, I’ll be clenching the seat covers all the way from Seattle to Olympia and back to retrieve all of my new roommate’s worldly belongings from a storage unit. 

Let’s pause, pretend the Wonder Truck is fit for extended freeway travel, and focus solely on the cost behind such an endeavor. At 8mpg, factoring in the oil consumption:

122 miles round trip divided by 8mpg = 15.25 gallons, multiplied by roughly $3/gallon = $45.75 for fuel + approximately two quarts of oil brings the grand total to around $51.75. 

Not bad, considering the cost of renting a U-Haul and paying by the mile, but then there’s the speed issue; the Wonder Truck rolls on a three-speed manual transmission with a third gear sweet spot of about 54mph. Now that we’re beginning to touch on the darker side of the scenario, it’s time to mention the fire issue. 

Outside of a bad valve or two, the Wonder Truck’s 350ci V8 runs fair. Except when coming down from highway speeds to stop and go residential areas. Around this time, all the oil that leaks from worn-out gaskets under the valve covers is no longer being kept relatively cool by sufficient airflow, resulting in oil seeping out from under the valve covers and pooling on top of the engine, which when hot enough, ignites the oil. 

In years’ past, the best way to deal with such an incident was to park the truck on the side of the road (keeping the hood closed to prevent an explosion) and let the excess oil burn off while the engine cooled. Simple enough, only around town we always knew that if the Wonder Truck burnt up in a blaze of its own regurgitated glory, we’d only be out a $1,000 pickup truck and some yard waste we would have preferred to burn anyhow. 

Tomorrow the stakes will be higher. Unbeknownst to her just yet, my new roommate is going to pile everything she owns in a rusty truck bed and trust I’ll get us back to Seattle without burning the sum of her material possessions to a smoldering pile of devastation alongside I-5 North. 

I told her I have two surprises for her when she arrives in the morning. The first: One wall in her new room is a mirror. The Second: The Wonder Truck. 

I’m wondering how she’ll react when she sees the calculations for gas money/oil money. 

Stay Tuned.

Beater Diaries: Brian’s 1993 Geo Metro (1)

To paraphrase, defines Geo as, “the earth,” and Metro as, “a means by which to travel a metropolis.” To me, a Geo Metro is an abandoned little rust bucket that’s been parked in front of my house for the last two days. It belongs to my roommate’s brother, Brian. Brian is on a road trip in Steve’s 1996 Buick Regal. When Brian returns to retrieve his unsightly subcompact from our house's curbside parking, he’s going to be confronted by an interview with The Beater Diaries. 

For now, all I can do is eyeball the Metro, peer in the windows and marvel at its thoroughbred beater qualities in preparation for the hard hitting encounter with its owner. Hold on a minute. I’m going out into the rain with a sticky pad to jot down some initial observations. 

…I’m back, and giddy with excitement from my findings:

PARK JOB – Directly in front of our mailbox, blocking any and all mail our house should be receiving. Even better, it’s positioned snugly behind my 1995 Civic hatchback. Both cars’ color is best described as teal, or sea foam if you will. Only my Civic is rust free. The Geo looks like something the Civic squeezed out of its tail pipe. 

RUST – Can be found eating away at the Geo in the following places:
-Around the keyhole on the hatch, like a cancerous donut 
-Along the arc of the right rear finder, like a patchy adolescent mustache if the kid had bad rust-colored acne 
-Lower/Upper passenger door
-Where the hood emblem should be
-In and around a rust-hole above the left front headlight

-Blue replacement fender on front driver’s side with yellow lettering displaying a junkyard part number
-Hole/long horizontal crack in rear bumper, likely from rear impact
-Battered front license plate, likely from frontal impact 
-Smattering of small dents on lower front hood, likely from the frontal impact, or an extremely isolated assault of golf-ball sized hail 

INTERIOR CONTENTS (So far as I could see)
-Two, no three, no, four Marlboro cigarette packets, presumed empty
-Countless Dr. Pepper and Mountain Dew bottles, filling all cup holders and covering the floor
-Dense ground cover of Frito Lay chips beneath the soda bottles on the rear floorboards, apparently stemming from an exploded bag of Frio Lay chips 
-Several K-Mart receipts, one empty K-Mart plastic bag 
-Something cylindrical, wrapped in tinfoil stashed behind the rear bench seat, about the size of a prize-winning cucumber 
-Moderate sprinkling of cigarette butts, positioned indiscriminately throughout the car
-Single book of matches in driver’s seat
-Notable amount of coins in dashboard dish, all of which are pennies 
-Various loose coins throughout car, all of which are pennies
-Oatmeal-colored strips of house carpet, used as front floor-mats 
-Custom shifter knob that resembles a golf club of sorts, perhaps a driver

Mmmm, this is going to be good. 

Stay Tuned.  

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About this blog

Brandon Seiler is a bonafide car guy, member of the Northwest Auto Press Association and proud Washingtonian. He covers the latest auto news, technology, and pretty much anything having to do with car culture. You don't have to like cars to read his blogs, you just have to be able to read.

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